7 Cheap Rituals to Try Before the New Year Arrives

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For anyone who resents the word "cleanse".

portrait of girl with the white balloonsWhere the headline of this post says “cheap”, I actually meant “free”. It will cost you nothing to use this end-of-year period to take stock, sort your head out, and set better intentions for the year ahead. Sure, it’s a romantic notion to believe we can walk cleanly away from an old year and bravely into the next; that we’ll do better this time and not fall short of the dreams we’ve cooked up. That said, you don’t need to be Oprah to know there’s power in setting intentions. Try these seven rituals to wave goodbye to 2017, all the while giving a cheeky wink at the year to come.

1. Write future you a lengthy letter

Write your future self an email to be delivered one year from now. In it, talk about the things you hope to have achieved by the time you receive the email. The service is free, but do consider donating because it’s a sweet idea. I’ve been writing a yearly email to myself since 2012 and it’s always interesting to review the things I was able to achieve (not to mention those that still elude me). futureme.org

2. Try the 10-things ritual with your friends

Gather up to 10 of your dearest friends. Dole out paper and pens and have everyone write down 10 things they wish to leave behind in 2017; maybe it’s a person, habit, job or destructive train of thought. On another piece of paper, write 10 things you want to invite into your life in 2018. Burn the former list, and plant the other into the ground. If everyone feels comfortable doing so, have each person read their lists aloud before burning/planting. It takes courage, but you’ll likely realise that we’re all trying to let go of the same bullshit.

3. Get 10 per cent happier than you are today

The app 10% Happier boasts the tagline “meditation for fidgety skeptics”. Its creator, US journalist Dan Harris, and his inner circle of yogis, academics and Olympic-level meditators offer quality meditations to try on a lazy Sunday or your daily commute. Just this morning, I listened to a guided meditation by Joseph Goldstein, in which he explained that mindfulness meditation consists of focusing on the present, inevitably becoming distracted, and then saying to yourself, “Simply begin again.” He posits there can be joy in noticing you’ve jumped onto a train of thought, and that, in that moment, you can jump back off to find your presence again. It’s now available on Android as well as Apple phones. The free version will suffice, but once you’re in the groove, the paid version is US$16.99 per month. 10percenthappier.com

4. Cleanse your wardrobe of shit you don’t wear

Did you read our article on why the 10-item wardrobe is so liberating? It was one of our most-clicked pieces of the year. Yes, whittling it down to 10 pieces sounds insane for most, though if you take in the article, you’ll learn that you can fill out your pared-down wardrobe with extras, including scarves, cardigans, jewellery, T-shirts and cocktail dresses. There’s something to this idea of women having more time to thrive if they’re not spending every morning deliberating over an outfit.

“When you take on the 10-item wardrobe, your entire lifestyle changes. You are no longer a slave to shopping. You only go shopping for a specific item that you actually need, rather than just perusing the shops. In the long run, you end up saving money this way,” says Jennifer L Scott, the woman who pioneered the concept. If you do this in time for Christmas, you can donate your no-longer-wanted items to charity. Or Dress for Success, which helps unemployed women join or return to the workforce by offering outfits for job interviews, among other things.

5. Chase everything you’re owed

Is there a friend who owes you $50? A client who hasn’t paid your last seven invoices? A colleague who never returned your DVD copy of Road to Perdition? Has someone borrowed a dress or suitcase or necklace that you’ve been quietly missing? Now’s the time to follow-up. Don’t let these things you’re owed sit in the corners of your mind taking up space. Shoot them an email or text and tell them you’re committed to squaring up before the end of year. Sending the message alone feels like progress, so chop-chop.

6. Level out your consume-create ratio

Sometimes when I feel low, I consider whether my consume to create ratio is out. For me, this means I’m eating, watching, listening, absorbing all the time, rather than channelling my energies into creating. This could be writing a song, baking an orange and almond cake, potting a plant, penning an article. Making something before the year is out will ideally propel you into the new year with a momentum of creation. In short, make more shit.

7. Watch this TED Talk titled, How to stop screwing yourself over

I repeatedly watch this to remind myself all over again that there are things in life I have convinced myself I no longer want. Relationship expert, author and life coach Mel Robbins acts as a sassy, sooth-saying friend who knows your potential and is at pains to see you waste it. Bookmark this for future reminders of what you’re putting off. The video has 12 millions views to date (plenty of those are me). Watch it now.

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